SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — With an estimated 7 million student-athletes participating in high school sports programs nationwide, as well as numerous summer competitive and recreational league programs comes not only fun, but the potential for sports-related injuries. Thankfully, Chatham, Springfield and other surrounding communities have the resources of the Sports Medicine team and their multidisciplinary team of professionals.
With the rise in youth sports participation and the associated increase in the number of injuries we are seeing, there is a definite need for qualified medical professionals who understand the issues facing young athletes. Our certified athletic trainers (ATCs) provide recognition, early intervention and prevention, which is key to positive outcomes.
ATCs are an integral part of the Sports Medicine team. These highly educated allied medical professionals are trained to deal with the injuries of athletes and also serve a more comprehensive role. Educational requirements for an ATC include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, heavy in science and physiology. New graduates must possess a master’s degree. These multi-skilled health professionals must also pass national certification exams and complete continuing education for state licensure. In addition to school settings, ATCs are employed by sports medicine clinics, corporate wellness centers and industrial fitness facilities because of their knowledge base and expertise in injury prevention, biomechanics and rehabilitation.
Certified Athletic Trainer Karen Gregory, LAT, ATC, PES, CES, has been an ATC at Springfield High School for 16 years. She also is a PE and health teacher. Karen received her undergraduate degree from Eastern Illinois University and her master’s degree from UIS.
As an ATC, Karen handles emergency and non-emergency situations that arise from sport and physical activity with five major focuses: injury prevention, assessment, management, treatment and rehabilitation. She assists with developing and implementing comprehensive emergency action plans and may identify unsafe field or environmental conditions including monitoring and providing the proper intervention for heat-related illnesses. When an injury does occur, Karen provides “on the field” or “on the court” assessments, follows the most effective injury management protocols and works closely with a physician as needed.
Karen shares the most rewarding aspects of her job: “I enjoy working with the student-athletes because I can help them reach their full potential and be successful. It’s amazing to watch kids work hard and succeed!”
Karen continues, “It’s so important to have the support of the vast sports medicine resources provided by Springfield Clinic. The Clinic’s Sports Medicine specialists can coordinate the care of injured athletes, including imaging, lab work, physical therapy and referrals to appropriate medical or surgical providers.The goal is to keep student-athletes healthy and in the game through injury prevention and quick action if an athlete does incur an injury.”
In summary, the daily one-on-one approach helps athletes restore function and return to activity as quickly and safely as possible. ATCs are indispensable medical professionals who respond to the needs of student-athletes and physically active populations.
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